I am using an application which has a white background color.

I am using this application 8 hours per day.

I think a GUI with less contrast would be better for my eyes. I guess this would save some mental energy.

Which arguments speak for a different background color, with less contrast?

(Looking at this page (ux.stackexchange.com) I see that the background color looks like white on the first sight. But actually it isn't)

2 Answers 2


On a personal level you could reduce contrast / brightness on your monitor.

Re the UX question there are numerous studies regarding reading legibility. Early screen designs had far less contrast than we have today. There are many great articles on the subject. One article well worth reading would be:

The Impact of Web Page Text-Background Color Combinations on Readability, Retention, Aesthetics, and Behavioral Intention

The purpose of this experiment was to examine the effect of web page text/background color combination on readability, retention, aesthetics, and behavioral intention.

The above article goes deeply into background/text contrast and reviews.

Due to the contrast effect one would expect that a white background would result in better readability. Therefore, [the authors] replicated the method of the first experiment with the exception that only black text and three different background colors (light gray, dark gray, and white) were used.

Surprisingly, they found better performance with the gray backgrounds than with the white background, a finding, again, inconsistent with the contrast effect.

(Ironically, despite these findings, the default background in web browsers these days is, of course, white.)

The difference in contrast has a lot to do with studies between reading on paper and monitors.

Before 1992 most studies concluded that people read slower, less accurately and less comprehensively on screens than on paper. Studies published since the early 1990s, however, have produced more inconsistent results


There is a problem in studying the differences (reading paper and screen) and that has to do that the quality of monitors is improving exponentially. The quality of monitors today (as regards DPI, refresh rate, color rendering) is miles ahead of that available in the 1980s and 1990s.

  • I played around with the settings of my monitor and found that there is a pre-defined configuration for "text". Looks better now. Thank you for this hint.
    – guettli
    Aug 10, 2018 at 10:25
  1. By using a light shade of grey as your background, you can then use pure white to highlight or emphasise something. For example on this site, the textbox for writing an answer is pure white and it stands out a bit more because of that.

  2. Pure white can be a bit 'cold', adding a bit of grey with a hint of colour can make your application feel more 'warm' and more pleasant to look at for long hours. I try to avoid using pure grayscale colours whenever I can.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.